Or so I thought, until I started going on long distance rides with roadies. There I'd be, extracting cable lock from saddlebag, only to watch my companions rest their custom roadbikes against the wall of whatever distant diner we'd stop at and …simply walk away, apparently content to leave their precious machines unattended for a good 40 to 60 minutes. Say what! Now I was the conservative, paranoid one. I understand the idea that out in the suburbs bike theft is less rampant than in the city. But it also seems easier to pull up and abscond with some sucker's fancy bike left propped against a tree for the taking.
As I began to lighten my roadbike setup - with 60 mile rides no longer seeming long-distance enough to warrant a saddlebag and the kitchen sink - reluctantly I abandoned the lock carrying habit. But this never felt comfortable. When I'd go out with a group, I could tell myself there was safety in numbers when leaving our bikes in a heap. But what about on my own? When you're flying through the countryside and panting your way up hills on your pared-down machine, it is not exactly fun to lug around a hefty lock for that occasional bathroom break or lunch stop. But maybe it's a case of something is better than nothing?
Speaking of string… There is a bit in Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman about leaving a bike thus secured, which I thought was parody. But later I saw a man doing just that outside the town of Limavady. It was not exactly a string he used, but more like a thin piece of cord, extracted from the pocket of his hi-viz cycling jacket. With it he tied his race bike in a loose bow to a farm gate on the side of the road, before climbing over the gate and walking off across the muddy field in clipless shoes. Where he went I do not know, but I hope his bike awaited his return faithfully.
What is your bike security policy when you're out road cycling? Do you leave your bike unattended or must you always keep it in sight? Do you carry a lock …or a string?